Chapter 25: Winning hearts and minds through interpretation: walking the talk
Tourists are becoming increasingly sophisticated and well informed, and as a result, are searching for innovative, unusual and/or unique tourist experiences (Rodger & Calver, 2004; Shackley, 1996). This may in part account for the increasingly wide variety of environmental experiences and opportunities on offer – activities ranging from jungle treks, butterfly viewing and cross-country skiing to snorkelling with whale sharks, eating breakfast with orangutans, going on safari and ballooning over waterfalls. Many of these activities are accompanied by interpretation designed to give visitors an insight into the fauna, flora and/or culture being viewed. This interpretation can be delivered in a variety of ways, ranging from guided tours, re-enactments, audio talks and specialist presentations to signs, brochures, multi-media exhibits and interactive experiences. Regardless of delivery mode, interpretation aims to present information in a way that inspires visitors to learn about the particular topic, issue or event being interpreted. So what exactly is interpretation and how does it achieve these aims?
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